SOUTHEND residents have used hundreds of loans totalling almost £16million to get on the property ladder.

The Help to Buy scheme loans can be used to purchase a new build property up to the value of £600,000, and can cover up to 20 per cent of the price.

Since the scheme was launched in 2013, 309 loans have been used in Southend to buy properties, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures reveal.

The loans have been worth a total of £15.99m in the area.

Mike Gray, the managing director of Dedman Gray, believes the Help to Buy scheme has been invaluable for property buyers in Southend.

Mr Gray said: “The help to buy scheme has certainly been a real success on new developments.

“It has created the opportunity for a number of first time buyers to get on the property ladder that may not have been able to do so without it.

“While there are plans for the current scheme to come to an end next year, I feel the recent difficulties with construction bringing forward new developments due to Covid-19, it would be prudent to seriously consider the help to buy incentive being extended.”

Figures show first-time buyers took out 89 per cent of the loans in Southend.

Last year saw 15 loans used in Southend – which was a decrease on 2018, when there were 108.

The average amount loaned was £54,800 in Southend, significantly below the £69,400 average across England.

The Home Builders Federation claim the scheme will effectively end in December as qualifying sales transactions will need to already be agreed.

The current scheme is to be replaced by a new one in April 2021, which is limited to first-time buyers with reduced regional property price caps – set at £407,400 for the East of England.

“I understand the new scheme to be very much based along the lines of the original scheme due to its success,” added Mr Gray.